Tuesday, July 26, 2016

#24in48 Readathon

Over the weekend I had fun participating a mini-readathon that I found on @Litsy.  I read more than usual on both Saturday and Sunday and still didn't make it to 24 hours. I did have two lunch dates and a 2 year-old birthday party to attend but still...

I finished two books in this time period and that was my true main goal. On our Asheville trip I'd started A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara and I was anxious to finish it. The book brought out a lot of emotions and mixed feelings for me.

Her writing is brilliant and I can see why it's the talk of the town. I loved how deeply she explored the idea of friendship.  The entire book revolves around four roommates, Jude, Willem, JB, and Malcolm, that form a bond so tight that it lasts throughout their lives. Hanya gives us different perspectives through a few alternating chapters but Jude takes center stage. If you haven't already read this I want to leave Jude's character unexplained and even though I had a few criticisms of the Hanya's story I would encourage everyone to read this book to the end. Don't be frightened of the 700+ pages- you will turn the pages quickly and you'll be halfway through before you look up. When I finished on Sunday morning I cried a little and then danced a little.

I picked a much easier book for my second read for the weekend readathon. Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper. I love the cover; oddly the cover on my library copy is very different-it shows a more modern-looking Stella-which doesn't fit the era. In Bumblebee, NC Stella and her brother witness a cross burning across the pond very near their black community. FDR is about to be elected and a few members, including her father, want to register and vote for the first time. Stella is asked to make the journey into town to go with them. Of course they are treated unfairly, have to pay the poll tax and take a test while several white men wander in and only sign their name to a piece of paper to register.

The KKK strikes out and burns a house right down the street from Stella's house.  The community bands together to help and are surprised when several of their white neighbors come out to help. I thought the civil unrest brought out in this book are not properly finished. The book ends with a Christmas pageant but no finish to the voting unrest or the KKK.

I did enjoy Stella's quest to be a better writer and thought it probably reflected a bit of Sharon Draper's own story. This is still a worthwhile story and can serve as an introduction to young readers (3rd-6th grade) of how difficult the civil rights journey has been and continues on today.

I really enjoyed participating in the #24in48 readathon sponsored by @Litsy.  I'm happy I had the weekend free and even though I didn't get in 24 hours I did complete two books. And now I'm reading New Kid by Tim Green. I have to balance in books from school with other books I'm interested in reading.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Black Lives Matter

A few years ago our son, on the way to community college, reached to the floor of his car to get a kleenex and as he did this his car swerved, hit a small sign for the median. He was a young driver and he didn't know what to do. He wanted to get to class on time so he just kept driving. Unbeknownst to him an off-duty police officer was near him in traffic and took it upon himself to follow our son all the way to school; 20 minutes away. He called for back up at some point and when our son pulled into the parking lot he was met with two police cars.  The off-duty officer's reasoning was that he thought our son was drunk or high even though he followed him all the way to school and he made no other traffic errors. He didn't swerve, cross the yellow line, or any other traffic violations.

Tristan was freaked out by this incident. After the on-duty officers spoke with him and ascertained that he was not drunk (at 9:30 am) and that he just had a cold he was allowed to head in for class. Our family, while generally law-abiding citizens, thought the off-duty officer was a little overzealous. Why didn't he just snap a photo of our son's licence plate? After all that we paid a nominal fee to have a new sign added back to the median. Thankfully that was it.

When I think of this crazy incident though and think about how scared my son felt that this guy in the oversized black pick-up was purposefully following him and it makes me realize how all American citizens with many shades of brown/black would feel in this situation. My son might have been scared and confused but he didn't fear for his life.

The video above from the NYT encapsulates the bloodshed based on skin tone.  Each one is violent and freaks me out how easily guns are blasted off as if they are playing a video game and not real life. Reaching for your wallet, errant teenagers leaving a pool in swim suits, a man selling CDs, a boy playing with a fake gun, a young man throwing rocks; all just people going about their day, not one a violent criminal yet dead at the end of the day.

I know the teens in swimsuits were not shot at but why in God's glory would police officers need to pull their weapons on teens in bathing suits. Warn them and move on. It looks like a scene from the 1960s not 2015.

I attended a vigil for #Orlando a few weeks ago and I have to admit I felt fear as I stood in the park surrounded by many like-minded friends and neighbors.  Bordering the park were streets with drivers, some who honked and waved and some who revved their engines purposefully as they raced by us.

Years ago our family stood at many street corners protesting against Bush's Iraq war. We knew it was a senseless war, planned for oil, not weapons of mass destruction. Often as we stood there, vulnerable, we had people in cars harass us, point, curse, scream horrible comments to us yet it was important for us to make our stand.

Each one of us needs to take a stand now to make this better. We need police communities to become much more sensitive through training/education. We need officers who do shoot to kill to face criminal charges.  We need local governments to take this seriously. We do seriously need gun control. Citizens armed with a variety of weapons, police officers armed and ready to shoot; we are getting nowhere fast!

Most Americans are interested in real freedom for all. #blacklivesmatter because we all matter. We are human. We need to stand together even if we are afraid.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy 4th of July

It's been a quirky day. I made pancakes for Groovy Girl and her amazing sidekick.  And then the rest of the day, for real, I cleaned my refrigerator. Well, except for the hour I laid on the sofa and finished reading The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy.  It was so good and very alien science fiction.  It was extremely popular in my library and I'd heard that it had some b-a-d words; I only counted three.  There is a little kissing but who wouldn't kiss if you think it's your last day on earth?! I would. I'd find the first cute guy/alien and kiss him. I like kissing. I also like being alive.

I cooked up a nice organic chicken with yellow potatoes while I juggled the contents of my ice box.  Now I'm off to a baseball game-the best part of Americana-that and the freedom I cherish.  Freedom to say what we want, eat what we want, think the way we want, and elect who we want. It's' a VERY important year.  Go out there and make American good, happy, free for everyone, and kind. Don't forget to be kind.